Washington, D.C. — Today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) called on the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to investigate whether Checks and Balances for Economic Growth (CBEG) violated campaign finance laws. The group, headed by Dan Perrin, spent at least $896,290 in October 2012 to run two political advertisements in Ohio attacking President Obama and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) just before the election, but failed to file any of the required disclosure reports with the FEC for the ads.
Read CREW's complaint to the FEC
“CBEG spent close to a million dollars trying to defeat Democratic candidates, yet thinks it can completely ignore the law,” said CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan. “This isn’t the wild, wild west. While the FEC has been asleep at the switch in monitoring our elections, it should have little trouble punishing CBEG’s ‘anything goes’ approach to following the law.”
Both of the advertisements featured miners from Murray Energy Corporation denying they were forced to attend a rally for Mitt Romney. One ad said Sen. Brown and President Obama are conducting a “war on coal” and are “job killers,” while the other asked why President Obama would lie about the rally.
Under federal law, groups that spend more than $10,000 on independent expenditures or electioneering communications — ads that mention a candidate by name close to an election — must promptly disclose their spending to the FEC. Despite spending heavily on the ads, CBEG failed to file any reports with the FEC. By deliberately failing to comply with the reporting requirements, CBEG may be subject to criminal penalties as well as fines.
CREW also filed a complaint today asking the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to investigate several other groups Mr. Perrin has headed whose tax-exempt status the IRS revoked in 2010. One, the HSA Coalition, has continued to represent itself as a section 501(c)(6) business association despite the IRS’s action, even filing a brief with the Supreme Court in 2012 claiming to be tax-exempt. In addition, the HSA Coalition, the American Taxpayer Alliance (ATA), and the Common Sense Coalition (CSC) may have intentionally failed to file tax returns.
Read CREW's complaint to the IRS
“If Mr. Perrin’s track record with tax-exempt groups is any indicator of the future, the IRS and the American public should be worried about what happens to CBEG,” continued Ms. Sloan. “As we get further away from Election Day, it would not be surprising if more of these dark money ‘pop-up PACs’ decide it is better to disappear rather than face legal consequences.”